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Rare Shooting Brake: 1973 Reliant Scimitar SE5a

Here’s something you don’t see every day:  a British 1973 Reliant Scimitar SE5a in Frederick, Maryland, one of perhaps six in the USA. Fans of the original automotive magazine Top Gear may recall the show’s scathing review of the three-wheeled Reliant Robin. In contrast, this Scimitar offers room for four, handsome design, and the all-important fourth wheel that renders it a legitimate automobile. The listing here on eBay has attracted at least one bidder willing to pay $5,000 or more to own this rare “Shooting Brake” i.e. what we Yanks call a Station Wagon.

Volvo fans may see shades of the stylish Volvo 1800ES, and that’s a compliment. This Scimitar cuts through the air up to a top speed of 120 MPH. Practical features on this Reliant include a 400 mile cruising range. Thanks to classiccars4sale.net for some details.

My first car was a German-built 1973 Mercury Capri, and this Scimitar boasts a dashboard my Capri only dreamed about… suggesting a vehicle of much higher caliber. At a time when many American cars were saddled with Titanic proportions and toy boat horsepower, European cars offered drivers better fuel economy with style and flair.

The 3.0L Ford “Essex” V6 sits rather far back as illustrated in this original Reliant sales brochure, helping with weight distribution for balanced handling. The four-speed manual apparently features a 1:1 second gear, with overdrive 3rd and 4th. My ’85 Ford F250 pickup had a similar arrangement, a 1:1 second gear with one overdrive (third) above that proved highly practical in the sense that I rarely changed gears. Who wants to take a chance on this rare and practical classic?


  1. Avatar photo Nevadahalfrack Member

    The beautiful love child of a German (Capri) and a Swede (Volvo 1800ES) conceived during a one night stand and later grew up in Great Britain!
    Fantastic instrument array! Amp, clock, water temp, oil pressure, etc. all done in what appears to be Jaeger or Smith dials, plus the requisite idiot lights to please the typically civil service appointed gov’t transportation autocrats that know little to nothing of being connected to a machine and actually DRIVING.
    The interior reminds me of an older Jaguar saloon-very classy.

    Like 12
  2. Avatar photo Ted

    This car should be wearing Minilites and racing at Goodwood…….

    Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Rick

    Shooting brake = 2 door. Station wagon = 4 door… IMHO

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Derek

      Both wrong; it’s an estate car…!


      This model’s probably the best-looking Scimitar. They’re good cars.

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo edh

    Union Jack Gremlin.

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Wayne

    Just a cool looking (I’m a sucker for a manual transmission 1800ES also) and different vehicle. I like it a lot. It is even the correct color for me.
    Too many in the herd right now.

    Like 5
  6. Avatar photo rapple

    Very cool car! It’s always been one I would like to have in my Fantasy British Fiber(re)glass Fleet. It would look great along with a TVR, Elva Courier, Turner, Ginetta, etc. Now where is the winning ticket that will allow me to afford them?

    Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Ian F

    I doubt second gear is 1:1. More likely 4th gear is 1:1 and the overdrive is an Laycock add-on unit that can be engaged in 3rd or 4th gear. Typical of British cars of that period.

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo dweezilaz

    Love it.

    Shame about the color. That’s one straight off of Earl Scheib’s budget chart.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo PDXBryan

    If I had time, I’d be tempted to sell my ’73 Capri and buy this. I’m a sucker for shooting brakes and wagons!

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Austin

    Technically, the term “shooting brake” refers specifically to 2-door station wagons based on cars with a sporty nature. Since there aren’t many cars of this type, the term doesn’t get used often. Just because a wagon has two doors doesn’t automatically make it a shooting brake, as it also has to be based on a sporty vehicle. So “shooting brake” isn’t just a term that foreigners use to describe station wagons, it’s a term that refers to a very specific type of station wagon.

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo SubGothius

      Or using analogy notation:

      Shooting Brake : Sports Coupe : : Wagon/Estate : Sedan/Saloon

      Like 1
  11. Avatar photo GeneB

    Funny you should mention the Earl Scheib color, my 3rd Volvo 122 Estate Wagon was painted the same color, over the [almost black] original BRG.
    I’ve owned 7 Volvo 1800 ES ‘shooting brakes’, and would love to own this one.

    I would love to be reunited with that V-6, as I also owned a ’73 Capri with the same engine. Ran perfectly, power speed etc., it was great. Of course the seat back was broken so I had a piece of 2×4 jammed behind it to hold it up, and the stick shift laver broke off flush with the floorboards, had to drive it from downtown LA to San Diego in 2nd gear. Both of these problems were eventually covered by recall; you should have seen the look on the faces when I drove that fast rat trap into Witt Lincoln/Mercury for the recall.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo GeneB

    So as my buddy and I were sleeping if off, in Torrance, his uncle goes out and drills a hole in the shifter stub, and pounds in a nail to shift with…fell out before I even got to the freeway, in second gear.
    He drilled the hole off center, so the largest screw I could tap for it was a #10-32. I turned a little part that screwed into the stuff and had a cbore to hold the broken-off lever. The bolt boke after using reverse 3-5 times, so I carried a bunch of screw and got good at spinning them out with an ice pic, quickly.
    My next car was the aforementioned 122 Amazon Wagon.

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo Chinga Trailer

    Didn’t one of the female Royals drive one of these? Princess something’r other??

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo SubGothius

      Princess Anne, the Queen’s daughter, owned two: an original Reliant and then later a Middlebridge continuation version.

      Like 0
  14. Avatar photo John

    The Volvo comparison is a compliment but in the other direction. The Scimitar predates the Volvo station wagon and was reputed to be inspired by it.

    We have a green Scimitar SE5a in the USA. It’s immense fun to drive and will always start a discussion.


    Like 0
  15. Avatar photo bog

    It has disappeared off eBay. Oddly. Showed bidding ended at $6,750…BUT said it was removed because “lost or something”…now it’s gone altogether. Hm.
    Sure is an interesting car, and I also had a Capri, but mine was made in Germany with the 2.8 V6, so I can imagine this had some power. Nearly bought a Volvo “box” wagon in this appx color in ’75 in a fit of Virgo conservatism (wife to be was one too…yikes), but came to senses and bought aforementioned Capri !

    Like 0

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